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Best Films of 2012

On the final day of the year when I know I cannot possibly squeeze in seeing another film, I’ve compiled the complete list of movies I have seen at the cinema in 2012.

Listed below, they are in order, my best film being “Amour”.  It dealt with a very heavy topic and was, in parts, a difficult slow watch but the power of this film directed by Michael Haneke was immense, no wonder it won the Palme d’Or.

There are plenty I never got to see, wonder what gems I missed?

 

My favourite film in 2012 Amour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY FAVOURITE FILMS OF 2012 LISTED IN ORDER with marks out of 10 given first.

9      Amour

8      The Artist

8      A Separation

8      Martha Marcy May Marlene

7½   Untouchable

7½   Your Sister’s Sister

7½   Shame

7½   Monsieur Lazhar

7½   The Kid with the Bike

7½   Breathing

7½   Searching For Sugar Man

7¼   Rust and Bone

7¼   Sightseers

7      Ginger and Rosa

7      Argo

7      The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

7      Shadow Dancer

7      Take This Waltz

7      The Hunter

7      Jar City

7      Carnage

6½   Beasts of the Southern Wild

6½   The Master

6½   The Descendents

6½   Patience (After Sebold)

6      The Imposter

6      Lawless

6      Rampart

6      The Angels’ Share

5¾   Moonrise Kingdom

5½   Muppets

5½   The Dark Knight Rises (Batman 3)

5      The Hunger Games

5      Killing Them Softly

 

 


My Best Films of 2011

 

9/10 Blue Valentine

Dir: Derek Cianfrance  (USA)
Actors: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams

Plot: The story of a young, blue-collar couple living in smalltown America which cuts back and forth between the start of their relationship and their troubled present.

 

 

My thoughts: Realistic, Quirky, Moving, Slow. Nice Filming. Great Acting. The unfolding story is engaging and in contrast with the majority of Hollywood films the central relationship feels natural, boosted by real charisma between the two leads.

 

 

8.5/10  Snowtown

Dir: Justin Kurzel  (Australia)
Actors: Craig Coyne, Daniel Henshall, Louise Harris, Lucas Pittaway

Plot: A charismatic drifter brings horror to an Australian suburb in this shocking take on a notorious real-life crime.

My thoughts: An exceptionally difficult watch, not sure I’d recommend to everyone, but v glad I saw it as it adds real insight into a horrid topic which one probably would not take time to read about.  Powerful stuff, very atmospheric NOT the side of Australia you usually see, deprived, no hope, dysfunctional families and society.  The acting is brilliant and uncomfortably real, probably due to the fact that only the lead is a professional actor. Lasts long in the memory and with much to think over. Outstanding film-making from a debut Director.

 

 

8.5/10  The Skin That I Live In

Dir: Pedro Almodovar (Spain)
Actors: Antonia Banderas, Elena Anaya.

Plot: Almodovar in dazzlingly idiosyncratic form; a sexual melodrama on gender issues and human identity. Features the visual austerity of his more recent work with elements of sheer Almodovarian entertainment.

My thoughts: Gothic, horror and humour make for a weird mix but one I hugely enjoyed.  Thoughtful and distinctive, a true auteur Almodovar makes films for himself with no compromise.

 

 

8.5/10  We Need To Talk About Kevin

Dir: Lynne Ramsay
Actors: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C Reilly,

Plot:The mother of a troubled teenage boy tries to deal with her feelings of responsibility for her child’s actions, based on Lionel Shriver’s award-winning 2003 novel.

My thoughts: Dealing with blame, guilt, gender roles, society pressures and stereotypes, this is a provocative and often bleak film with no easy answers but stimulating in its approach. A superb adaptation, extremely visual and bold which enhances the narrative.

Lynne Ramsey’s first film since 1992 Morvern Caller it marks her out once again as a powerful director with an individual vision. Deliberately confusing in parts and featuring many crimson-tinged flashbacks, the ride is not smooth, but it forces the audience to think. A chilling and powerful antithesis to the “happy family” Hollywood blockbusters we usually get presented with. The novel and film provides a voice for thoughts, feelings and discussions which are seldom heard and for that alone it deserves a place in my Top 6. Never mind the powerful and nuanced performance of Tilda Swinton who totally convinces in a difficult and complex role. She effortlessly reveals the contrasting layers of emotion such a horrific scenario must provoke.

 

 

8/10 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Dir: Tomas Alfredson (France | UK | Germany)
Actors: Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Ciaran Hinds, David Dencik, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong.

Plot: A flawless cast and stylish direction creates a masterful new rendering of le Carre’s classic spy thriller.

My thoughts: Slow but engrossing and complex, woven beautifully together by “Let The Right One In” director Tomas Alfredson.  Gorgeous muted colour palette, attention to detail and sharp framing entertain the eye.  Each role is perfectly cast and every actor is flawless, especially Oldman who gives Smiley an intense mesmeric centre ensuring we are totally drawn into this Cold War chess.

 

 

 

8/10  127 Hours

Dir: Danny Boyle (USA | UK)
Actors: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn.

Plot: A mountain climber becomes trapped while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive. Based on a true story.

My thoughts: Danny Boyle’s best film since “Trainspotting”. He brings this story to life and keeps the audience gripped with stylish direction and superb editing. The bulk of the film is set in one location and in the hands of a less-skilled director it could easily have become laboured. Boyle uses lots of tricks and techniques to allow the tale to unfold whilst the tension racks up. The clever script allows plenty of scope for the emotions of the narrative to be shared with the audience.  James Franco imbues the role with charisma and physicality, creating a courageous and strong-willed character with a huge will to live. Engrossing and inspirational.

 

And the Rest:

7.5/10    The Kings Speech

7/10        True Grit,   The Guard,   Drive,    Hugo 3D

6 ¾/10    The American,    Contagion,

6.5/10     Submarine,   Senna,   Jane Eyre,   Ides of March

6/10        The Way Back,   The Fighter,   The Big Picture

5.5/10    How I Ended This Summer,   Sarah’s Key

5/10       Black Swan

4.5/10   Wuthering Heights (such a massive disappointment as I loved the Directors last film “Fish Tank” which was my Best Film for 2009)

 


Best of 2009: Music and Films.

2009_bestfilms_music

Indeed, it is that time of year again when a cultural reckoning is required.  Did you have any favourite films this year and what was cooking up a storm on the music front?  Just like a friendly chinwag round the internet campfire, all are welcome to spend their two-pennies worth, please share your own Best Of’s for the Year 2009 and leave a comment.

I shall kick things off with my choices:

Best singles:

    Laura Marling – Alas I cannot swim (came out in 2008)
    Andrew Bird – Noble Beast
    Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
    Richard Hawley – Truelove’s Gutter
    The xx – xx
    Wilco – Wilco
    Wildbeasts – Two Dancers
    Yeasayer- All Hour Cymbals

Bubbling under
Tunng- Good Arrows (came out in 2007) / The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love / School Of Seven Bells – Alpinisms / Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz / Polar Bear – Polar Bear / Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs / The Antlers – Hospice

Best Films
(roughly in order, best first)

    Fish Tank
    The Damned United
    Mesrine Killer Instinct
    The Class
    Moon
    Caramel (2007)
    Sleep Furiously
    Coraline
    Doubt
    35 Shots of Rum
    Frozen River
    Let the Right One In
    The Reader
    An Education
    Inglorious Basterds
    Slumdog Millionaire
    Syndoche new york
    Public Enemies
    State of Play

…. sadly there were others but they didn’t even make the cut.

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My favourite films of 2008.

filmframe

I usually bore all my filmy mates with my favourite films of the year, but hey, now I have a blog I can be even more indulgent!  My favourite music list will follow shortly, as soon as I’ve taken some more evaluative pills.

  1. There Will Be Blood /Paul Thomas Anderson, USA … ambitious, layered, passionate, engrossing, well acted.  Old-fashioned parable, epic in a good way.  Stunning cinematography.  Needed a great central performance and thankfully we got a top of the range Daniel Day Lewis acting class.  Powerful stuff.  Just spoilt by a drawn-out ending.
  2. The Dark Knight /Christopher Nolan, USA … very enjoyable, disturbing, moody and magnificent, Heath Ledger’s Joker lifts it notches higher on the entertainment levels.  Delve deeper and the messages are thick and potent.
  3. Juno /Jason Reitman, USA … original, funny, involving, imagine a comedy about abortion working so well. Great screenplay.
  4. No Country For Old Men /Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, USA … clever and creepy, vacuous, mans dark side exposed, not much hope on show.  Always interesting but worryingly uninvolving.
  5. Happy Go Lucky /Mike Leigh, UK … just the antidote I needed post “Old Men” and “Will Be Blood”, light of touch, beautifully acted, jaunty, charming and sweet. A film with a heart.
  6. Lars & the Real Girl /Craig Gillespie, USA … I really loved this, its original, affecting and thoughtful.  You are slowly drawn into a quite odd world which is brought to life wonderfully.
  7. Of Time and the City /Terence Davies, UK … rich, moving, interesting, thoughtful, individual, a very personal elegy and an essay on life.
  8. Charlie Wilson’s War /Mike Nichols, USA … entertaining, well acted, surprisingly better than I thought.  Philip Seymour Hoffman should have won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this.
  9. Gomorrah /Matteo Garrone, Italy … realist and gritty, suffers a little being post-“Sopranos”, anti-gloss gangster deconstruction. Tight jumpy editing, visually strong and visceral.  Deserves to be seen widely.
  10. Sweeney Todd /Tim Burton, USA/UK … rich in colour and pantomime,  good fun, I closed my eyes sometimes but the sounds were even worse.  Burton back on form.
  11. The Kite Runner /Marc Forster, USA … emotive, a strong visual hook tells a universal tale.  Strong but slightly flat.
  12. Wall-E /Andrew Stanton, USA … innovative and exciting first 40 minutes, imaginative story then plummets to dullness. How could such potential diminish so quickly?  Massively disappointing.
  13. Indiana Jones /Steven Spielberg, USA … couldn’t resist, my hero returns for more hokum.  Better than Indy 3 nowhere near as good as Raiders.  Old Harrison just about pulls it off, thankfully the laconic Bogart delivery doesn’t diminish with age.
  14. Gone Baby Gone /Ben Affleck, USA … well told crime tale, sturdy acting.  Delayed release due to freakish parallel with real UK child abduction case in the news.
  15. Burn After Reading /Ethan Coen/Joel Coen, USA … poor, almost embarrassing acting and casting, the Coens back to coasting mode.
  16. Hellboy 2 /Guillermo del Toro, USA/Germany … what a let-down, the best bit by far (which produced the only audience laugh) is the singing of a Barry Manilow song.  Save your pennies and watch that clip on YouTube.

Missed but heard good things on:

Hunger (UK), 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania), The Class (France), Waltz with Bashir (Israel), In Bruges (UK/USA),  Man on Wire (UK/USA)

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